Now two years into his first term, Iberia Parish President Larry Richard says that although the economic downturn facing Louisiana have put a damper on things, there are signs that things are getting better.
Question: How do you see Iberia Parish growing in the next four years?
Answer: “I think Iberia Parish is in a position to truly grow in the next four years. We’ve got a clear understanding of where we started two years ago, we know exactly where we’re at and we have a plan. Right now, I see a lot of potential in Iberia Parish.
“We have some things we need to do. We need to better our infrastructure, that needs to be addressed. The drainage needs to be addressed. As far as growing to bring more businesses and rooftops here,we’ve got to get our infrastructure right. I think the one thing we did in these past two years is get a grip on the amount of money we receive and understand how much we receive. We understand that we can’t pay the bills we have, and once we get that squared away, we can use the surplus dollars. But the economy isn’t going to stay like this, we’re going to get royalties and tax collections again. It’s all starting to come up.”
Q: How will the parish grow in eight years?
A: “In eight years I would like to see the Acadiana Regional Airport become one of the focus areas of Iberia. We’ll have a roundabout at 675 and 3212.
“We would have this airport being a more maintenance, repair and overhaul type of airport, particularly like an international cargo facility. I’m, sure you’re aware about the SLCC aviation school that’s also going to be coming there fairly soon. So in eight years, hopefully the airport is going to be a major engine.
“The Port of Iberia, hopefully things they’re working on we’ll come to fruition and we’ll see some more business and land over there. I love oil and gas, I come from oil and gas, but personally I think we need to start diversifying our economy.”
Q: What are some economic engines of Iberia?
A: “Of course the Port of Iberia is a huge focus in Iberia. One of the industries people don’t talk about enough is the sugar cane industry. It’s our second biggest industry and also an extremely consistent industry.
“I’m currently working very close with the farmers on drainage and other issues so they can have an easier season. That’s a major engine focus. I’m going to go back to the airport, it’s one major area of concern for Iberia Parish. We’re looking to bring more business in Iberia and we’re looking at the airport to do that.”